Most of them did, in fact, join the Knights of Columbus. All of them came to the monthly meetings a few times, but all of them dropped off except one. And that one young man is engaged to be married. The other young men still help with events, and do the fun stuff with their brother Knights, but they won’t come to meetings. What they cannot tolerate in these meetings is the unpleasantness of listening to another guy talking. Meetings are a necessary evil, and I’m not looking forward to our Parish Council meeting tonight, even though we all like to be together. What everyone finds difficult in meetings is listening to another person who likes the sound of his or her own voice a bit too much.
To be a man, to be a husband and a father, and to be a priest, one must learn to listen patiently. Patient listening—letting someone finish—is quite difficult for people accustomed to entertainment “on demand.” If I am used to switching a podcast on and off at my pleasure, it’s very hard for me to sit through a 90-minute meeting listening to others drone on.
Isn’t it telling, therefore, that the one young man who can sit through a Knights of Columbus meeting has committed himself to a woman for the rest of his life? I look around at the other men at the Knights of Columbus meeting … they are all married, except for two of us priests, who have also had to learn how to listen patiently.
I’m sure the wives of these men have had to learn with even greater dexterity how to listen patiently. But as for our young men, who long to be happily married, but can not seem to tolerate listening to others speak seemingly interminably: perhaps the best preparation for marriage is a Knights of Columbus meeting.